Last Road to Freedom

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Resources for Research on Civil War Contraband Camps

Berlin, Ira, Barbara J. Fields, Thavolia Glymph, Joseph P. Reidy, and Leslie Rowland, Eds.  Freedom, a Documentary History of Emancipation: Series 1, Vol.1.:
   the Destruction of Slavery. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
Berlin, Ira, Steven F. Miller, Joseph P. Reidy, and Leslie S. Rowland, Eds. Freedom, a Documentary History of Emancipation: Series 1, Vol. 2.:
   the Wartime Genesis of Free Labor: the Upper South. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. 
Berlin, Ira, Steven F. Miller, Joseph P. Reidy, and Leslie S. Rowland, Eds. Freedom, A Documentary History of Emancipation:  Series 1, Vol. 3:
    the Wartime Genesis of Free Labor: the Lower South. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
Berlin, Ira, Steven F. Miller, Barbara J. Fields, Steven F. Miller, Joseph P. Reidy, and Leslie S. Rowland, Eds. Free at Last: a Documentary History
   of Slavery, Freedom, and the Civil War. New York: the New Press, 1992.
Click, Patricia C. Time Full of Trial, The Roanoke Island Freedmen's Colony, 1862-1867. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina
   Press, 2001.
Eaton, John. Grant, Lincoln, and the Freedmen, Reminiscences of the Civil War. New York: Longman Green, and Co., 1907.
Engs, Robert Francis. Freedom's First Generation. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1979.
Frankel, Noralee. Freedom's Women, Black Women and Families in Civil War Era Mississippi. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999.
Gerteis, Louis. From Contraband to Freedman, Federal Policy Toward Southern Blacks, 1861-1865. Wesport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1973.
Hermann, Janet Sharp. The Pursuit of a Dream. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981. 
Tomblin, Barbara Brooks. Blue Jackets and Contrabands: African Americans and the Union Navy. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2009.
Rose, Willie Lee. Rehearsal for Reconstruction, the Port Royal Experiment. Indianapolis, IN: The Bobs-Merill Co., Inc., 1964.


Armstrong, Warren B. "Union Chaplains and the Education of the Freedmen." Journal of Negro History 52 (1967): 104-115.
Bigelow, Martha M. "Vicksburg: Experiment in Freedom."
Journal of Mississippi History 26 (1964): 28-44.
_____________ "Freedmen of the Mississippi Valley, 1862-1865." Civil War History 8 (1962): 38-47.
Blakeslee, Sara E. and Marika Martin. "Influences on Identity: a Grounded Theory Approach to Descendants of Freedmen." Journal of Feminist
          Family Therapy
21 (2009): 271-283.
Currie, James T. "Freedmen at Davis Bend, April 1864." Journal of Mississippi History 46 (1984): 120-129.
Davis, Thomas J. "Schooling the Freedpeople: Teaching, Learning, and the Struggle for Black Freedom, 1861-1876." Library Journal 135 (2010):
Donhart, Gary L. "On the Road to Memphis with General Ulysses S. Grant." West Tennessee Historical Society Papers 53 (1999): 1-15.
Everly, Elaine C. "Marriage Registers of Freedmen." Prologue 5 (1973): 150-154.
Felix, James. "The Establishment of Freedmen's Village in Arlington, Virginia." Negro History Bulletin 4 (1970): 90-93.
Fraser, Walter Jr. "Radical Republican: Champion of the Negro and Federal Aid to Education." Tennessee Historical Quarterly 25 (1966): 239-260.
Kerr-Ritchie, Jeffrey R. "Runaways and Veterans," review of Runaway and Freed Missouri Slaves, 1763-1865, by Harriet C. Frazier, H-Net Reviews, June
         2011, and review of Voices of Emancipation: Understanding Slavery, the Civil War,
         and Reconstruction through the U.S. Pension Bureau Files
, by Elizabeth A. Regosin and Donald R. Shaffer, eds., H-Net Reviews, June 2011,

Levstik, Frank R. "A Journey Among the Contrabands: the Diary of Walter Totten Carpenter." Indiana Magazine of History 73 (1977): 203-222.
McGehee, C. Stuart. "Military Origins of the New South: the Army of the Cumberland and Chattanooga's Freedmen." Civil War History 34 (1988):
Moneyhan, Carl. "From Slave to Free Labor: the Federal Plantation Experiment in Arkansas." American History Quarterly 53 (1994): 137-160.
Oz, Frank. "The Predicament of Racial Knowledge: Government Studies of the Freedmen during the U.S. Civil War." Social Research 70 (2003):
 Pearce, Larry W. "The American Missionary Association and the Freedmen in Arkansas, 1863-1878." Arkansas Historical Quarterly 30 (1971):
Reidy, Joseph P. "Coming from the Shadow of the Past: the Transition from Slavery to Freedom at Freedmen's Village, 1863-1900." Magazine of 
          History and Biography
95 (1987): 403-428.
Ross, Stephen J. "Freed Soil, Freed Labor, Freedmen: John Eaton and the Davis Bend Experiment." Journal of Southern History 44 (1978): 213-232.
Smith, Thomas H. "Ohio Quakers and the Mississippi Freedmen: A Field to Labor." Ohio History 78 (1969): 159-171.
Wakefield, Laura Wallace. "Set in a Dark Place: Teachers of Freedmen in Florida, 1864-1874." Florida Historical Quarterly 81 (2003): 401-417.

Michelle J. Howard, "Slaves, Contraband, and Freedmen" (Master's thesis, United States Naval Academy, 1982); digital version (http://www. 


Owen, Robert Dale to President Lincoln, August 5, 1863,


Family History Research
  • . Family Search now has available some census images--including the 1870 census for free!
  • As of May, Family Search has made available Civil War records including soldiers' records.
  • Digital Library on American Slavery. This site offers a searchable database of detailed personal information about slaves, slaveholders, and free people of color. Database housed at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
  • The Freedmen's Bureau Online. Visitors may search this site by state.
  • Amistad Research Center. The Amistad Center hold the papers of the American Missionary Association. The collection includes letters of missionaries during the war.
  • Civil War Widow's Pensions (Southern Claims Commission at Many pension files contain information on residence at one or more contraband camps.
  • Civil War Slave Compensation Claims. Residence of slave and slave-owner for members of the 1st, 4th, 8th, 12th, and 13th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery (USCT).
  • Southern Claims Commission at Many African Americans also lost property during the war and therefore filed claims with the commission. These records, which include testimony of African Americans, give one an idea of the transition to freedom.
  • Low Country Africana. This particular page of the Low Country Africana site provides a list of bondsmen and women mostly from the states of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Additionally, has teamed up with LCA to provide names of slaveholders and names of plantations. This information is based on WPA Slave Narratives produced in the 1930s. Don't miss the "Restore the Ancestors" project page. Restore the Ancestors is a join project between LCA, the South Carolina Dept. of Archives and History, FamilySearch, and The project hopes to make available the names of 30,000 African American slaves.
  • Afrigeneas. This site is devoted to African American genealogy, to researching African Ancestry in the Americas. It is also an African American research community. There is a mail list, message boards, and weekly chats. 
  • Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Freedmen's Bureau Search. This searchable site contains names of African Americans who signed labor contracts in Mississippi between 1865 and 1867.
  • U.S. National Library of Medicine, "Binding Wounds, Pushing Boundaries: African Americans in Civil War Medicine." Includes information on Contraband Hospital in Washington, D.C.--"a black-only facility."
Other Media
Useful Links
This project, hosted by the University of Maryland, has produced several volumes of archived documents relating to the Civil War and emancipation. 
This website, based on Patricia Click's book Time Full of Trial: the Roanoke Island Freedmen's Colony, provides a list of descendants of the colony.
This site provides a listing of more than 1,000 genealogy blogs.